Treating Delusional Disorder

delusional disorderDelusional disorder is a type of mental illness that involves psychosis, the inability to tell what is real from what is not real.[1] Delusional disorder’s main feature is the presence of delusions, or the unshakable belief in something untrue.1 People with this disorder experience non-bizarre delusions, or situations that could occur in real life.1 For example, being followed, deceived, conspired against, poisoned, or loved from a distance.1 However, in reality, these situations are either not true at all or highly exaggerated.1

Delusional disorder is rather rare, and people with the disorder can often socialize and function normally, unlike individuals who have other psychotic disorders.1 Apart from the subject of their delusions, people with the disorder normally do not behave in an odd or bizarre manner.1 However, in some cases, a person may become so preoccupied with their delusions that their lives are disrupted.1

Oftentimes, delusional disorder is difficult to treat.1 The most effective treatment is a combination of therapy and medicine.1 Therapy often helps a person with delusional disorder to control their symptoms, identify early warning signs of relapse, and develop a relapse prevention plan.1 Common therapies include individual psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), and family therapy.1 With individual psychotherapy, a person is guided to recognize and correct the underlying thinking that has become distorted.1 With CBT, the person will learn to recognize and change their thought patterns and behaviors that lead to troublesome feelings.1 Family therapy can help both the family and the individual effectively deal with the disorder1

There are several medicines available to treat delusional disorder. Conventional antipsychotics have been used to treat mental disorders since the 1950s.1 As dopamine is a neurotransmitter believed to be involved in the development of delusions, these medicines block those receptors in the brain.1 Examples of conventional antipsychotics are Thorazine, Haldol, Trilafon, and Prolixin. Atypical antipsychotics are newer medicines that also block the dopamine receptors in the brain, as well as the serotonin receptors.1 Serotonin is another neurotransmitter believed to be involved in delusions.1 Examples of these medicines include Zyprexa, Risperdal, Seroquel, and Geodon. Delusional disorder is also treated with other medicines, such as tranquilizers and antidepressants.1 Tranquilizers are often used if the person has high anxiety and trouble sleeping.1 Antidepressants are used if the person is also suffering from depression, a common co-occurrence in people with delusional disorder.1

Some people with severe symptoms, who are at risk of hurting themselves or others, may need hospitalization until their condition is stabilized.1

Although delusional disorder is a chronic condition, when treated properly, many can find relief from their symptoms and live successful lives.1

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